1. All teenagers take risks as a normal part of growing up. It’s a tool they use to define and develop their identity. Healthy risk-taking is a valuable experience.
2. Healthy risk-taking includes sports, developing artistic abilities, volunteer activities, travel, making new friends. All such activities contain the possibility of failure. Parents must recognize this and support their children.
3. Negative risk-taking includes drinking, smoking, unsafe sex, drug use, disordered eating, stealing, gang activity and self-mutilation. These can be dangerous.
4. Negative risk-taking looks like rebellion. But it’s simply part of a teen’s struggle to test out their identity. It provides self-definition and separation from others.
5. Genuine attempts at healthy risk-taking may fail. Teenage girls may not recognize the trap of dieting and develop an eating disorder. Parents need to inform themselves so they’re aware of such problems.
6. Red flags to help identify dangerous risk-taking include: persistent anxiety or depression, problems at school, participating in criminal activity.
7. Since adolescents need to take risks, parents need to help them find healthy opportunities to do so. Healthy risk-taking can help prevent unhealthy risk-taking.
8. Parents are often silent about their own experiences with risk. It can be important to share this information with teenagers, to let them know that mistakes are not fatal and to encourage them to make healthier choices than their parents made.
9. Parents need to help teenagers learn how to evaluate risks, anticipate the consequences of their choices and develop strategies for diverting their energies toward healthier activities if necessary.
10. Parents need to pay attention to their own patterns of risk-taking as well. Teenagers are watching and imitating, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Ponton, L. (2006). 10 Tips for Parents of Risk-taking Teenagers. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-tips-for-parents-of-risk-taking-teenagers/00036
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.